PIL in SC seeking guidelines to fill the legal lacunae in dealing with Custodial Torture/Rape/Deaths
Updated: Jun 16, 2021
A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has been filed in Supreme Court seeking guidelines for ensuring an effective and purposeful framework and its enforcement to fulfill the constitutional obligation of right to life and human dignity and prevention of custodial torture/deaths/rapes and it also to establish an independent committee which can review the entire legal framework and find pitfalls in the existing legal framework in order to curb the menace of custodial torture/deaths/rapes.
The Petition was filed by an Allahabad-based NGO- People’s Charioteer Organisation (PCO), and its Secretary, Legal Cell, Devesh Saxena, Managing Partner, S&D Legal Associates along with Shashwat Anand, Consultant and Legal Advisor, S&D Legal Associates.
The said petition was filed after the father-son duo, Jayraj and Bennix were subjected to severe beatings by administering third-degree torture on 19.06.2020 for violating lockdown orders, by keeping their mobile shop open beyond permitted hours, and were even sexually assaulted by lathis during the period of police custody.
The said incident raised the urgent need for institutional correctives within the policing system in this country and the acute need for India to enact a strong law to prohibit and prosecute cases of torture and custodial deaths, in fulfillment of its legal obligations, both national and international, to guarantee protect right to life.
Further, the reliance was placed on landmark decisions upheld by Hon’ble Supreme court whereby it is expressly stated that police have no right to exercise the power to arrest and interrogate arbitrarily & capriciously. Detailed guidelines regarding the powers and procedure for arrest were laid down by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Joginder Singh v. State of U. P. (1994) 4 SCC 260 & D. K. Basu v. State of West Bengal (1997) 1 SCC 416.
The petition has also drawn the attention towards the data recorded by NCRB by stating, “Crime in India” Annual Reports published by the National Crime Records Bureau from 2005 to 2018 under the Ministry of Home Affairs recorded death of 1,373 persons in police custody i.e. 873 persons not remanded to police custody by court and 500 persons remanded to police custody by courts. However, zero convictions were made.”
Lastly, the petition has also expressed grave concerns in the International context, wherein, India is among only 9 infamous countries who have not ratified the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, 1987. Also, the petition highlighted the statement issued by The Executive Committee of Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative(CHRI) on the deaths of Jayaraj and Bennix, stating that the said incident is an acute demonstration of a broken criminal justice system, also urging the Government of India to ratify the United Nations Convention Against Torture, 1985 to which India is already a signatory since 1997.
Read the Petition here:
(Image Source: uncat.org)